Banana bread is warming comfort, but did you know those ripe bananas languishing on the counter can be transformed into a cool, creamy soft serve? We all get that craving for a bowl of something cold and sweet. With a little planning, you can freeze sliced bananas, and buzz up a purely plant-based soft-serve, adorably called “nice cream”, with a truly satisfying texture and flavor that might surprise you.
The Magic of Frozen Bananas
Our friend, the banana, is pretty unique. Fruits like apples are juicy and crisp, but if you freeze them, the juices become icy, and the crisp cellulose collapses. Bananas, on the other hand, have more starches and less water, and a dense texture with none of the crispness of other fruits. When you freeze a ‘nanner, it stays creamy, and is easy to puree. When our tongues taste very cold foods, the flavors are muted a bit, and the sweetness becomes predominant. That makes a frozen banana taste a little less like a banana, and more like ice cream. A bit of vanilla helps fool you into thinking it’s the soft serve of childhood memories!
Secrets for the Best Nice Cream
There is really only one challenge, and that’s making a smooth puree before the bananas thaw. To make this easier, make sure to slice the bananas thinly before freezing. That means the blender or food processor can blast through more quickly, without as much heat-creating friction.
Whether you use a blender or food processor, have your ingredients and serving bowls or tub ready, and don’t get the bananas out of the freezer until go time. Blend, scrape, blend, scrape, and as soon as it’s smooth, serve. If it is a little soft for your taste, park it in the freezer for half an hour or so, then stir. If you freeze your nice cream until it’s solid, just take it out of the freezer to soften at room temperature for about half an hour. It won’t be quite like soft serve, but it will be delicious.
Go Wild With Flavors
Basic vanilla nice cream is fantastic, but once you’ve savored that, try making chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, or whatever your heart desires. You’ll see our five flavor variations in the recipe below.
Once you’ve fallen in love with banana nice cream, you’ll want to stash sliced bananas in the freezer for spontaneous blending. You’ll be serving a healthy fruit snack, in the guise of ice cream. That’s pretty nice.
More Easy Frozen Desserts
- Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas
- No-Churn Peach Cobbler Ice Cream
- Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
- Carrot Cake Smoothie
Basic Nice Cream:
Freeze the bananas:
24 hours before serving, peel and slice the bananas thinly (about 1/4 inch thick) and spread on a parchment-lined pan. Freeze until solid. If not using that day, transfer to a zip-top bag.
Make the nice cream:
Blender method: Pour the milk and vanilla into the blender container, then add the frozen banana slices. Remove the plug from the blender lid and secure the lid, then insert the tamper (if you have one). Hold the lid on and blend, starting on low speed and increasing to high. Scrape down and repeat as needed to make a smooth puree.
Food processor method: Place the frozen sliced bananas in a food processor bowl and process, breaking down the banana into small bits. Scrape down the sides, add the vanilla and almond milk, and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down to make sure all the bits are incorporated.
As soon as there are no lumps, transfer to bowls to serve, or to a storage tub and freeze. If the puree is softer than you’d like, freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour, and stir.
If you freeze the nice cream until solid, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour to soften before serving.
Nice Cream Variations:
- Chocolate nice cream: Add cocoa with the vanilla and milk and process.
- Peanut butter: Add peanut butter and honey with the bananas and proceed.
- Caramel Pecan: Make basic nice cream and transfer to bowls or a storage tub, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans, then swirl gently. Serve or freeze.
- Strawberry: Add the strawberries and honey with the bananas and proceed.
- Chocolate chip: When the cream is smooth, pour in the melted chocolate and process. The chocolate will harden into “chips.” Serve or freeze.
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